The COVID-19 pandemic was claimed hundreds of thousands lives, wrecked economies, forced sports leagues the world over to cancel or restructure their seasons, and now, in California’s Los Angeles County, it is causing Halloween to be canceled.
As KTLA-TV reported, on Tuesday, the county issued its rules for the October 31 holiday, and it appears that traditional activities normally associated with Halloween are off the table.
Door-to-door trick-or-treating, the traditional method of collecting Halloween candy, is now forbidden. Health officials say that it would be difficult for groups of kids, the adults who supervise, and the homeowners from whom the children solicit candy, to maintain social distancing during the activity. Similarly, also banned are so-called “trunk-or-treat” events, where kids and parents gather at a parking lot and go from car to car rather than house to house, for the same reasons.
Further, the county has forbidden gatherings or parties consisting of people from different households, even if they’re held outdoors. And haunted house attractions are also canceled.
“Since some of the traditional ways in which this holiday is celebrated does not allow you to minimize contact with non-household members, it is important to plan early and identify safer alternatives,” the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said in a statement.
Similarly, last week, Health Director Barbara Ferrer, in warning residents about Labor Day gatherings, noted the importance of maintaining social distancing, even during holidays.
“While holidays are typically a time to come together with extended family and friends to celebrate, we ask you to alter your plans this year and take responsibility by not engaging in any risky activities that can spread the virus,” she said at the time.
So with almost everything typically associated with Halloween revelry now banned, what can county residents do to enjoy the spooky season?
The county suggested some alternatives, including “drive-through” parades in which the occupants and/or the vehicle are dressed up and judges can evaluate them from a safe social distance; online pumpkin-carving and/or costume events; and the customary decorating of the home and front yard.
L.A. County will likely not be the only jurisdiction in the U.S. to ban trick-or-treating this year. Earlier this week, The Detroit News reported that several communities in its distribution area have already started rethinking their Halloween plans, including canceling parades and debating whether or not to allow door-to-door candy-gathering. There’s no word yet on if that will also include Halloween parties and haunted house attractions.